Sri Lanka needs comprehensive youth development program: UN

ECONOMYNEXT – A senior United Nations official said a comprehensive youth development program is needed for a better future for young people in Sri Lanka, which has suffered three insurgencies led by educated youth, with unemployment still persistently high among youngsters.

“Today, we are seeing the largest ever youth population globally with a sizable youth population in Sri Lanka – of about five million,” said Jorn Sorensen, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Sri Lanka.

Having a youth population of such magnitude offers the island of 21 million people a “golden opportunity” to accelerate sustainable development, he told a youth forum on leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship co-hosted by the UN agency.

However, this would be possible only if “the necessary policies are in place, substantial investments are made and conducive environments are created,” Sorensen said.

“Empowering today’s generation of young people is however also our only chance to end poverty, end hunger, bridge inequalities and support wider climate action.”

The island suffered three youth insurgencies in 40 years in the 1971 – 2009 period, two in the south and one in the north, both still considered economically lagging regions.

Youth unemployment in Sri Lanka remains high with almost one-fifth of those in the 15 – 24 year age group out of work, and the highest unemployment among the most educated, the latest labour force survey shows.

The highest unemployment rate – of 9.5 percent – is from the G.C.E. Advanced Level and above qualified group, according to the third quarter 2018 survey by the Census and Statistics Department, up from 8.5 percent in the same quarter of 2017.

The unemployment rate from the G.C.E. (A/L) and above group has been above eight percent for the five years since 2013. It was 8.1 percent in 2017.

Sorensen said the UNDP was working with government agencies on a co-ordinated approach for an integrated youth development programming to ensure success, as individual efforts would not be effective enough.





“This dialog is representative of our shared commitment to help youth become leaders and entrepreneurs” he told the ‘#Our2030 Youth Dialogue’ forum.

It was held by the UNDP together with the Ministry of National Polices, Economic Affairs, Resettlement & Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development, Vocational Training, Skills Development & Youth Affairs, the Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, National Youth Services Council, Information and Communications Technology Agency of Sri Lanka, Citi Foundation, and Youth Co Lab, a programme co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation.

“Bringing together youth groups to collectively work on a youth agenda is increasingly important,” Sorensen said.

The forum, held for the second consecutive year, brought together 200 young people from across the country.
(Colombo/January 23/2019)

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